Search and Tech Giants Named to Help Government Set Policy

potus-sealTechCrunch reports that Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt and Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie have been named to President’s Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The council is designed to help the President and Vice President form policy related to science, technology, and innovation.

The council has an impressive roster of people associated with major academic and research organizations

The group is co-chaired by John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Eric Lander, Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project; and Harold Varmus, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, former head of the National Institutes of Health and a Nobel laureate.

Google Makes Public Data More Usable

In what is being called just a start, Google has introduced the ability to better search and then actually use public data. The data that beinggoogle-logo used in this initial run is provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau’s Population Division. Google’s hope is to not only make this data more easily accessible but then be able to use it in a way that can be helpful through comparisons of different data sets.

Two years ago Google purchased Trendalyzer, which is part of this offering. The Google blog states

Ask.com Adds Site Links

Aside from bringing butlers out of retirement, Ask.com has been working to improve its search results. This week Ask adds Domain Navigation (what Google calls Site Links) to the first listing in its organic results.

Here’s how it looks for a search for Disney:

Not really earth-shattering, is it? On the one hand, I’m glad Ask is continuing to make enhancements to its search engine. On the other, it’s just not enough really, is it? Adding a feature that’s already offered by Google, isn’t going to get anyone switching search engine loyalty.

6 Months Until Google Starts Deciding Your News Interests For You!

According to Hollywood reporter Sharon Waxman, Google could soon decide which news you should be reading on a daily basis.

Waxman cornered Google CEO Eric Schmidt and grilled him asked him over cocktails to share his vision for Google News. Here’s what he reportedly said:

In about six months, the company will roll out a system that will bring high-quality news content to users without them actively looking for it.

Under this latest iteration of advanced search, users will be automatically served the kind of news that interests them just by calling up Google’s page. The latest algorithms apply ever more sophisticated filtering – based on search words, user choices, purchases, a whole host of cues – to determine what the reader is looking for without knowing they’re looking for it.

76% of Twitter Users Don’t Care If You Reply or Not

In a recent MarketingProfs survey 425 Twitter users were asked a series of questions about their use of Twitter. There where some interesting findings, including why we use the micro-blogging service.

Twitter users were asked to rate the reasons why they participate, on a scale from 1 to 5 (with 1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree):

  • “I find it exciting to learn new things from people”: Average score 4.65
  • “I value getting information in a timely manner”: Average score 4.58
  • “I like to be connected to lots of people”: Average score 3.91
  • “I want to generate new business”: Average score 3.70
  • “I find it gratifying to have people follow me”: Average score 3.64

Microsoft Vine Could Save Your Life in a Crisis

Microsoft has announced the private beta launch of Microsoft Vine, a web tool designed to keep family and friends in contact with each other.

Now, before you start screaming “Twitter ripoff,” take a close look at what Microsoft Vine is trying to be:

Send and receive alerts. Organize people into groups – the sports team you coach, people who live nearby, family far away, special friends, and emergency contacts…Check in safe and well to let your family know you are okay, let trusted neighbors know you’re headed out of town, keep people informed of situations that matter, or share general information like the team practice schedule for the week.

Online Sales Up in the US for Some

In a report from eMarketer there is a mixed bag of news for onlineshopping-bag sales from Q1. The study that was done by Forrester Research and Shop.org shows an overall increase in online sales of 11%. Nice number for sure considering the daily doom and gloom that seems to dominate the economic news of most days.

Digging into the findings just a bit reveals how that increase is not something that appears to be felt across the board. Overall, 58% of those using the online sales channel experienced an increase in sales. When you put it that way it seems to say that the increase may be more a result of some areas showing bigger increases which were offset other poor performers. The chart below reveals the weak spot.